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No minds land – Stones


In the ancient Etruscan homeland of Tuscany, on the beaches between Baratti and Populonia, where the stones that hallmark the landscape never tire of telling their infinite stories, Massimo Paganini literally creates his own stones, leaving a mark, a trail, a collection of contemporary anthropological fragments for the archaeologists of the future.
Meticulously prepared using polyurethane foam, gauze and plaster, Massimo Paganini’s stones recreate perfectly the feel and mood of sea-smoothed rock. Their soft masses sculpt and shape, curving as the human body bends, falling as a dozing shoulder slips to the sand, rising with the arc of a beach ball and delighting in the liquid ecstasy of bare buttocks dried by the sun. But these paradoxically weightless rocks speak of other worlds too. In a blindingly ethereal sparkle of light their startling strokes and colours express the dynamic conflict between the kaleidoscopic refraction of contemporary pop culture and the atavistic acts of bathing, cleansing and purification.
Filmed with an iPhone, montaged using Photoshop, and then printed as transfers, like the fake tattoos sold by Chinese and Nigerian hawkers on these same beaches, these scenes are created with a multitude of reproductive techniques and technology, digital and analogical, manual and immaterial. The result is a sensation of reverberating pretence, of living shadows that exist in a world of unreality, vision, immanence and imminence bathed in a clear blue, acid light.
These are the oil pastel-enhanced stills that Paganini projects onto his stones, not frozen images from a forgotten past, but the sense that something is about to happen.
Like we said, contemporary anthropology, or better, ethology.
Since his previous cycles (“Divina Carne” - Divine Flesh - spindle tree on remixed paper, and “Latte, Sangue, Buio” - Milk, Blood and Darkness -), Paganini’s eye has shifted from the hydraulic tension of desire, excitement and relaxation expressed in the human body to a timid, unwilling display of intimacy in which flesh seems almost to evaporate.
These beaches depict a private realm in a public space where human becomes unashamedly animal. The entropic throng bares its teeth at nature, splashing, trumpeting, growling, guzzling, chomping, phoning, lowering its civilized defences and strolling carelessly on and off stage in a way that is so typical of our modern world. These are the bodies that are transfigured, the very colour of their skin, the earth, the sky, the sea (as only human artefacts have different tones), everything is transfigured as this blue, sun-baked landscape tells its tales.